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What is Stress?

Just what is stress anyway?- Stress is an inherent part of daily living. It has been a part of human life since man walked on earth. In early history, normally stressful days entailed securing food, maintaining family needs, and avoiding dangerous outcomes with animals. In many ways, we operate in a similar capacity with the challenge of modern day life. The need to keep current with e-mail messages and faster-paced computers, complete To Do lists, and do "more" with "less" renders a sense of being always on the go. In essence, the primitive need to always be on guard and ready to perform has not changed much over the years.

The good news is that there are two (2) forms of stress. Distress, the more familiar, is the chronic feeling of being overwhelmed, oppressed, and behind in your tasks. It is the pervasive sense of being taxed by life with little opening for relief. Eustress is the alternate form of stress that is actually beneficial. Eustress allows us to engage with the challenges in life that are meaningful and offset boredom. It can entail utilizing that adrenalin surge to lend the necessary energy for maximum productivity. Have you ever been "charged" as you prepared a long term paper a day in advance of the due date? If you enjoy waiting to the last minute to prepare projects and find that they have a higher quality, the sensation you experience may be ‘eustress’. Keep in mind that perception is the key to determining which category a situation falls under. What is perceived as negatively stressful for one person may be perceived as positively stressful for another.

Why do I feel Stressed?

We feel stressed when demands on our system are not met with equally effective coping strategies. We may have excellent coping skills for several areas and limited resources in a few. It is important to determine which areas are more challenging to make appropriate accommodations.

Essentially, we ‘stress out’ for three (3) reasons:
1. Change in life has an unsettling effect.
2. We are feeling challenged or threatened by an outside force.
3. We experience a loss of personal control.

When experiencing any of these factors, a person can either resist it, avoid it, or adapt to it. Examine your pattern in the past when dealing with stressful situations. Are you pleased with your current coping strategy? If not, go here to learn some practical methods on effectively handling stress!


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